Private Liquor Sales Gain Support

Chambersburg Public Opinion

A bill that would privatize wine and spirits sales in Pennsylvania now has the support of the state Senate’s majority whip.

Sen. Pat Browne, R-Allentown, announced his support of House Bill 11. Sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, the bill would privatize the retail operations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Browne and Turzai made the announcement with several other lawmakers at a recent press conference.

“Given the significant movement of the Pennsylvania system of distribution of wine and spirits away from it core government mission of control, it is time for the commonwealth to divest of its operations into the private sector. It no longer serves a legitimate public function,” Browne said.

Only two states — Pennsylvania and Utah — have complete control over both the wholesale and retail of wine and spirits.

“It’s great to have Senator Brown on board. He is not just joining me, but the vast majority of Pennsylvanians who want the government out of the alcohol business,” Turzai said.

Turzai’s proposal privatizes the wholesale and retail operations and shifts the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s role to focus solely on regulation and education.

Gov. Tom Corbett has said previously he would support the privatization of the state’s liquor sales.

Unions that represent state store employees and other critics of privatization have argued that privatization would hurt jobs, affect selection and prices, and increase the risk of problems associated with alcohol.

After the announcement that Browne was supporting the bill, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 urged members to call or e-mail Browne to “let him know that selling the stores would be risky and irresponsible.”

Turzai said House Bill 11 would enhance enforcement of liquor laws and would offer current Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board employees the hiring preference in other state jobs, tax credits for employers to hire them full-time, and education grants to help retrain employees to perform other jobs.

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